We are in the beginning stages of the biggest fundamental shift in marketing most of us will see in our lifetime. The personal PC changed the world in the late 1970’s. Then the internet was created around 1990 changing how we share and consume information. The last ten years we’ve gone through the mobile revolution, and now we are heading into the AI revolution.
Artificial intelligence grew substantially in capability and popularity in 2016. It is already having a major impact on how we interact with and market to our customers. It really became clear when Google’s AI beat a World Champion at Go, the most complex game in the world. Since then there have been many more breakthroughs, and AI has been one of the biggest buzzwords in marketing this year.
Let’s take a look at the three biggest ways AI is changing marketing:
Salesforce made a bold statement when they purchased AI startup MetaMind. Not long after this acquisition they launched Salesforce Einstein. Salesforce now claims to be the “world’s smartest CRM.” The company says Einstein can automatically customize its information for every single customer and will get smarter and improve as it gains more data on the customer.
Google announced in October 2015 that it was using artificial intelligence to improve the search results it provides users. The AI it dubbed RankBrain works alongside the rest of its algorithm to better understand the true intent behind a user’s search query.
Chatbots and the digital personal assistant
A chatbot is a computer program that communicates with a person via text or audio. They are already being used in customer service, the sales process and as a key part of the digital personal assistant. Companies such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple have all been feverishly working on their version of what they think will be the best personal assistant.
Currently, Google is leagues ahead of most of its competitors in the race for the best personal assistant, but they all have a long way to go before reaching “Jarvis” level status (Iron Man reference if you didn’t get it).
Back in 2015, I shared my prediction on the future trends of marketing. I shared what I called the 3 P’s: personalized, predictive and proactive. It was my opinion that marketing of the future would closely follow these three trends.
We’ve already seen personalization grow significantly in everything from email marketing, personalized web content and personalized search results, but it’s still in its infancy. The predictive aspect is being utilized in many forms from predictive lead scoring (Salesforce Einstein) to utilizing AI to more accurately determine the intent of a user’s search query (RankBrain). In my opinion, the 3rd P, proactive, is both the ‘holy grail’ of these companies as well as one that will need to be rolled out slowly to gain adoption.
At some point a personal assistant will change from a reactive state where it only assists you when you prompt it to, to really understanding your needs (personalized). It will determine, based on historical data, how it can best assist you now (predictive). Finally, it will take initiative to deliver assistance before you even ask for it (proactive).
Artificial intelligence will continue to evolve and so will the ways it can assist in the marketing process. Companies that adopt this technology and seamlessly integrate it into their processes will be at a strategic advantage.
Kevin Getch is the founder and director of digital strategy for Webfor.